Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Locked Out!!!

Twilight view from our deck.

Last night I went outside on the deck to relax for a few minutes.  To my surprise, I noticed that my two little children were following me out onto the deck.  It was their bedtime, so I asked them to go down and get into their pajamas and brush their teeth.  They dutifully obeyed and closed the sliding glass door behind them.  Usually at this time of day, I take a few moments to enjoy the setting sun, and unwind before going downstairs to read a bedtime story and pray with the kids.  I enjoy this time of the evening when I can look out into the valley and see the rays of the falling sun basking on the valley below me.  During this evening ritual, I take time to look out into our meadow as well and watch for passing deer or animals who are on the move in search of food.  Needless to say, this is my special alone time each evening. 

Eric and his cousins enjoying a cool treat.
Photo credit given to Kaylee, Eric's mommy.
On this particular night, I found myself not enjoying my evening ritual as I would have liked.  When I was looking at the bluffs before me, I noticed that the hummingbird feeder hanging in front of me was almost empty.  I was outside for around ten minutes at this point, and I then  decided to go into the house and get started on cleaning out the feeder before filling it with sugar water.  To my surprise, I came up to the door and found that it was locked. When Abby and Will went inside, they must have locked the door behind them.  Unfortunately, Anne was out on her evening walk and the kids were down stairs and could not hear me knocking on the glass door.  After a few moments of pacing the deck, I contemplated climbing down on the side of the railing to the second level and thought better of it. I didn’t want Anne to come home and see a corpse lying in the garden 30 feet below.  After walking back and forth for several moments and nearly walking over the sprinkling can, I came up with a wonderful plan, “What if I threw the sprinkling container down to the second level deck, near the children’s glass door?  They surely would hear the clatter as it hit their deck!” Trying this brilliant plan out, I found to my dismay, that no one came out to see what the noise was all about.  Next, the thought entered my mind, “What if I bang on the wall, they surely would hear that sound, because it would obviously resonate through to their room below.”  My tactic worked, though ineffectually, they later told me that they had heard the banging, but thought I was doing some strange dance upstairs. 

Abby posing for daddy.
Exasperated, I looked out toward any nearby houses wondering if anyone was outside.  The plan was to ask a neighbor to call our house and tell my kids on the phone that their dad was locked out on the deck.  The idea was sound, but no one was outside due to the fact that the weather was still relatively warm and humid.  After pacing for several long minutes, I came up with another great idea.  I would signal my brother in law if he was near his living room window.  I proceeded to look over to their home, but no one was visible and their lights were not on.  Suddenly though, I could see a glimmer of hope, someone was looking out, standing under a curtain by a glass door.  Much to my dismay, it was their 2 ½ year old son, Eric.  He saw me and  began to waive while standing behind his bedroom curtain, and he thought it was wonderful that his uncle would like to spend such quality time with him.  Needless to say, we spent the next 20 to 30 minutes waving at each other.  I would make half an effort at waiving, while in response, Eric would come back with his energetic bouncing wave.  Oddly enough, after several minutes, I realized that this is what made me relax.  I was finding myself waiving at a small boy who thought the world of me, this little child who was wanting to spend so much time with his uncle, when he was supposed to be sleeping.  Life couldn’t get any better for Eric at that moment in time.  No bedtime worries, just hanging out with his uncle. 

After what seemed like an eternity of playing pick-a-boo with Eric, I decided that perhaps I should search for another way to escape my plight.  I then looked at the roof and decided that it was too high to reach.  Besides, falling forty feet straight down, I soon came to the conclusion that it was not a good plan if I should slip.  Next, walking over to the side of the deck, I could see that repelling with my belt over the side, was not an option in that a thirty foot fall would not be good for my health.

A Winona home photographed when Anne and I went for a walk .
My memories at that point went back to just two hours earlier when my mother in law (Marji) at supper, told me that she remembered when their cat, Rose, was locked out on the deck one night.  Everyone forgot Rose and just before going to bed, they heard a faint “meow” coming from the direction of the deck window.  Marji walked over to the sliding glass door and saw Rose with both feet on the glass meowing for someone to hear her sad cry for help.  We all laughed at that funny incident, and now, I was Rose.  I couldn’t yell loud enough and I didn’t want to wait until dark before a family search and rescue was sent out.  At that point, I turned and looked at the sun starting to set, and my earlier passion for watching it go down, was turned from joy to that of sadness.  What if Anne got back and went downstairs right away, and saw that the kids were asleep, and thought perhaps that I was outside still working and would come in when I was finished with my chores?  She would not see this poor man who was alone, feeling very sorry for himself.  Trying not to worry too much, I decided to go to the edge of the deck and watch Eric once more.  I wondered if he would still be there, and he was.  He appeared to be straining to get taller, and with that effort, I suppose he was hoping to get a glimpse of me one more time.  In his mind, his efforts proved fruitful when seeing me, he then started to wave with squeels of delight, jumping up and down again.  Viewing his excitement, I forgot my predicament once more.  He made me smile and take all of this that was happening to me, and make all my worries dissolve after seeing his happy smile. 

After realizing that this experience was just another day in that of being a father and husband, I turned around at that exact moment and noticed that the last rays of light were falling behind the trees.   I then turned and saw Anne in the kitchen.  I walked to the glass and lightly tapped on the glass door and she came immediately to my rescue.

Winona State University where Anne
 has taught these last several years
We have always taught our children to lock the outside doors behind them.  At 8 and 6 years of age, they sometimes forgot this rule, especially when they have an important destination in mind.  On one hand, I was proud of my children for thinking about locking the deck door, but on the other hand, it would have been nice for them to look and see if they left anyone behind.  Needless to say, I shared with my children what had happened and I could see the sadness in their eyes when telling them what had just transpired.  Later, my son asked if I was mad at them, and I responded with a “No, not at all.”  By seeing the sadness in their eyes, I knew that they would make every effort in the future, to remember to look out on to the deck, the next time they locked the door behind them.

Within a few minutes we were happily reading from James Herriot’s “Treasury of Children,” a collection of stories about the animal world and how they intermingled with the people around them.  James Herriot is one of my most favored authors and now he is becoming a favorite for my children as well.  After the reading time, a little later, Will gave me a Lego toy he has just constructed for his mommy and myself.  This ritual we go through each night, he makes one or more Lego toys for us as his parents, to play with while he sleeps.  He told us one night, “I don’t want you or mommy to be lonely for us when we sleep, so here is the Lego’s that I made for you both to play with when we are sleeping.”

Methodist church here in Winona.  I photographed this on one of our evening walks.
After further hugs and kisses, I watched my children walk off to bed, and thought to myself, how fortunate I am to have two children who have such gentle hearts.  What a wonderful life God has made for me here in this home with my wife and children.  As I write these final words I can hear Abby’s laughter as she is telling her mommy something funny, and Will is feeling loved and fulfilled, knowing that his daddy will be happy playing with the toy that he has made for him.

To my family and friends near and far, and to you the readers who share our joys, whether you live close or even as far as another country, I am hoping that you have a wonderful week ahead, and thank you for taking the time to read about our lives this day.